"Holy shit, but I need to peeeeeeh!" quoth my squealing neighbor as we finally ended the long taxi to the gate in Memphis. It was a merciful ending to a strange leg of my trip home fo the holidays.
It started with a fifteen minute bus ride that shoud have taken three. Got to the gate in good time, regardless. Boarded on time, which meant we had a nice long wait for the stampede. While we all stood waiting, three marines on our flight were enjoying a few libations.
Now usually when I fly, at least one leg of the trip results in me being seated next to another large mammal, and one of us either arranges to take a different seat or we suffer through bumping shoulders and a great deal of discomfort.
So of course, as the stampede begins, I have a large man behind me. I ask where he's seated, and... wait for it... he's in the same row... other side of the aisle, thank god!
While I'm talking to him, he sneezes rather fiercely (into his elbow, thankfully). I say the usual, to which he replies, "I'm not sure what I've got. Haven't been the same since Singapore."
My first thought? FUCK ME!
"Don't advertise that," I said. speeding up to avoid over-exposure.
I took my seat, a window. The aisle seat was quickly occupied by a guy about my age who seemed to be an experienced traveller. Chatted a moment, confirmed the cool. we both kept our eyes forward, looking for the middle seat, dreading the outcome.
Here comes a Marine.
A dog starts whining in the back of the plane.
The Marine staggers past, blearily checking rows. My row buddy and I share a relieved nod. A family of indian women take seats in front of us.
Behind them comes another of the Marines. Digicam hat popped high and clutching a soda bottle in her hand. Being of exceedingly small stature, as she comes closer she tips her head back to look at the row numbers and the rather large lump of chaw in her lower lip becomes visible. The soda bottle, a rather large 2o oz, is a third full with her spittle and used vegetable product.
"Shit, but it's hot in here."
"You sitting here?" my cool row mate asks.
"Yep, this is meeee!" the Marine replies slurring her vowels as only alcohol and one born in the south can do competently.
The gent in the aisle seat rises and lets her in, helplessly looking to the front of the cabin.
The scent of chewing tobacco and no small amount of alcohol swirls in a sickening melange with the yapping whine of the dog somewhere behind us as she moves into position. She takes a while to take her seat, having to first pound her bag into the space between her seat and the indian's to her front.
"Hooweee! That was shit."
What followed was either a tactful silence or stunned muteness. I am still not sure which.
All the sudden her head is in my lap as she's scrabbling at her bag. This goes on for more time than was comfortable for me, adn I am relieved to discover her scrabbling has a purpose. She's trying to get her Marine training manuals out and study.
"Just made lance, tryin' for corporal," she mutters.
"Congratualtions," I say, releived to have her chaw-soaked mouth away from my crotch, and meaning it too; just cause she's uncouth doesn't mean she isn't a good soldier.
"Uhm-huh," a delay, then, "Shit, I gotta go to the latrine."
The aisle fellow rises, the Marine departs. My aisle buddy looks disappointed. Not that she left, but that she'll be coming back.
"Could be a big drunk one," I say.
He shrugs, as if to say, "Or it could have been a Maxim model."
The Marine returns, sans spitoon and bulging lip. Relieved, I buckle up and prepare to get off the ground.
We get off the ground without a hitch, aside from more muttered imprecautions from tiny Marine next to me, which I am good with. Some people just don't travel well.
The tiny Marine passes out, slumping between myself and Mr Cool Aisle for the duration of the flight, which means lights out for me too. I wake as we start to descend. There's a good bit of weather turbulence, setting the plane to rocking.
Tiny Marine gets agitated, bouncing in her seat and pressing one breast into my arm as she cranks her neck over to look out the window, "I fuckin' hate not fuckin' bein' able to see the ground. Hate worryin' we'll fall outta the sky and crash."
The Indian woman in front of us gives a tiny squeek of fear, not in response to the plane's movement so much as the Marine's brining that movement to her attention.
I just nod wordlessly, working my mouth to pop my ears. Some shit you just don't say out loud, even when you're giving cheap thrills.
We get on the ground and she's all over her phone, shooting the shit with someone, cursing every third word. I wouldn't have batted an eye, but then she starts to tell a story.
"Yeah, that Marine I was telling you about, he tried to kiss me."
"Shit, I told you he tried to kiss me. And I told him, 'I'm no whore to be kissing some Marine I just met. I was raised in a God-fearing household.'"
"Shit, I know. Oh, and by the way I have one word to tell you about- you know."
We make the gate and passengers start to disembark.
"Holy shit, but I need to peeeeeeh!I know, I've been sleepin' the whole trip since we got in the fuckin' air."
By now the other passengers have finally emptied rows through to thirteen, the row before us. I breath deeply, thinking, 'Freedom is nigh!'
Another head-in-lap session as she starts to pull her bag from beneath the seat in front of her.
At last, it ends.
Now for the Memphis to Chattanooga leg.
And back again.
It should be noted: I respect and appreciate all our armed forces. They give more than they should have to each and every day. The individual soldier can often do some funny shit, though. Especially the young, intoxicated and uncomplicated.